Citizens of heaven

The Stories of the Bible: Where have I heard this Story before? – Ralph Bowles speaks at the Learning Community in Brisbane

Kingdom Gardeners

Small words make a big difference

Supporting TCKs

Good Friday without Easter Sunday

Where would we be if Jesus was not raised from the dead?

Every year Shi’a Muslims ‘celebrate’ Ashoora. It’s not really a celebration, it’s more of a commemoration – almost like an annual funeral. After Sunni, Shi’a Muslims are the second largest sect. Their presence is strongest in Iran, Iraq and Bahrain.

Ashoora marks the day Hussein, the grandson of Muhammed, died in battle at Karbala (in modern Iraq) in 680AD.

Many see Hussein as a reformer, one who spoke against corrupt religious leaders and spoke for truth and justice. They see his martyrdom as the act of a righteous man who gave his own life for a great cause. Shi’a people often say, “every day is Ashoora and every land is Karbala”. By this they mean that every day, in every place, we should continue the fight against oppression and injustice.

For Shi’a people it is a day of tremendous significance and deep mourning. Special poems are recited and reenactments take place. Funeral processions are held for ten days beforehand, with men chanting and solemn drumming. Many will beat themselves with flails, and some even cut themselves with swords until the blood flows freely. Although discouraged, and in some places even repressed, these ceremonies have continued for over 1300 years.

To me, Ashoora is like Good Friday without Easter Sunday.

Jesus also spoke out against corrupt leaders. He proclaimed the truth – in fact, he claimed to be the Truth. Like Hussein he was betrayed by those who promised to support him. Like Hussein, he was subjected to a cruel death. Like Hussein, his followers were dejected and defeated.

But not for long.

Easter Sunday saw the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. His death had dealt with sin, and his life now brought eternal life to others. He sent the Spirit to each of his followers and commissioned them to go and tell others of this great news.

Paul acknowledged that, if Jesus has not been raised from the dead, then we are fools and more to be pitied than all men. Every time I see an Ashoora parade, I think of that.

Join with us in praying:

  • That our workers in Shi’a places would effectively use the story of Hussein as a ‘redemptive analogy’.
  • That our work transforming lives and communities in these places would find ready acceptance among those who annually remember the struggle against oppression.
  • That the annual mourning would turn to joy as many encounter not just one who died for the truth, but the Risen One who is The Truth.
These reflections were contributed by an Interserve worker.

Why we chose Tabor for On Track Together

On Track Together is an opportunity to learn more about mission and explore faith and justice issues through cross-cultural study and service overseas.

In forming this new pathway we’ve stayed close to our roots, looking to partner with an Australian Bible college that is committed to building effectiveness, faithfulness and longevity in our cross-cultural workers.

We’ve looked for:

A Christ-centred, biblical foundation.

Interserve is a community of disciples of Jesus seeking to bear witness to God’s love for the world and its people. We believe that true freedom and transformation only comes through knowing Jesus. Therefore our learning and service must be built on a strong understanding of Biblical truth leading to relationship with Jesus.

A dedication to wholistic mission.

Beyond the debate over word and deed, we see the importance of whole-of-life discipleship, of bringing good news, of solidarity with those on the margins and of serving those in our marketplaces and neighbourhoods. This dedication sees us develop a multifaceted approach to mission.

A commitment to reflective practice.

Today the timeless task of mission is conducted in constantly changing social contexts. We need to be reflecting on our practice and adjusting our approaches to share God’s love in relevant ways.

A passion for local understanding.

We know that lasting transformation requires deep learning. Our desire is to equip incarnational workers to serve their neighbours and communities through having local language skills and highly-developed cultural awareness.

These values are shared by Tabor and have informed our decision to partner with them to include their Diploma of Intercultural Studies as part of On Track Together.

This diploma is wholistic in its understanding of mission and theology; it integrates culture and social context into core subjects; and it has reflective approaches built into each subject.

We are also excited that by working together, Interserve and Tabor can offer On Track Together participants the opportunity to:

  • Apply for academic recognition for the ministry experience and language learning achieved during On Track Together as two of the eight units required for completing the diploma.
  • Access the program Australia-wide, supporting participants and churches in regional and remote contexts as well as from cities and towns. This is possible because the Diploma of Intercultural Studies program can be studied fully online. 

We see Christians across Australia eager to love their newly-arrived neighbours. Tabor’s online learning approach allows us to come alongside people, wherever they are, and offer support through On Track Together.

There are many great courses at many great colleges around Australia but the synergy between Tabor, Interserve and the On Track Together program makes the Diploma of Intercultural Studies the right fit.

We look forward to working together with Tabor and with Australian churches to see On Track Together participants, equipped, engaged and envisioned to be globally minded Jesus-followers.


Got questions? Drop us a line. 

On Track Together Manager



Caring for Third Culture Kids

Maybe you’re wondering what a Third Culture Kid (TCK) is and why you should care for one? Are they a rare plant? An endangered species? A remote people group? If you or your church are responsible for supporting a family overseas, then you have the opportunity to care for and pray for a TCK. 

The term Third Culture Kid was first used in the 1950s to describe children who spend a significant period of their formative years outside of their parents’ culture. According to sociologist David Pollock, “The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background.”

Why do TCKs require special care?

TCKs are unique, special and potentially fragile. They grow up between worlds – looking different to those in their host culture, and feeling different to those in their passport culture. Because of this they can struggle with what it means to belong, what is ‘home’ and what is their identity. This can lead to a sense of isolation or feeling alone.

Some typical characteristics of a TCK

Mobile – used to having to move around

Flexible/adaptable – adjust to change quickly

Culture/language – bi/multi-lingual and sensitive to other cultures

Quick to relate – connect well with people of all ages, and especially with other TCKs

Broad world view – ‘global citizens’, tend to be quite observant

Rootlessness – where am I from?

Supporting your TCKs

Try to understand from their perspective

We recently had a family visit us in our home in the Middle East with their two small children. My children were interested to observe how alien and strange everything was for their children as they experienced a different world, culture and lifestyle. I pointed out that this is how my children feel when they return to their passport culture. It was like a penny dropped. When families return for home assignment just understanding that their children may feel lost and disoriented is a big step to supporting them.

Don’t draw attention to them

Sometimes we’re so keen to celebrate returning workers that we forget to empathise with the children. They may already be feeling like they don’t belong, so making them stand up in front of the congregation to sing their host country’s national anthem won’t help them to blend!

Ask the right kind of questions

Sometimes we ask questions of our TCKs that are very challenging for them to answer. What is life like in your country? Is it good to be back ‘home’? Try and break down enquiries into smaller, specific questions. What is your favourite food in your country? What’s the hardest/best thing about being in Australia? What are you missing most about your host country?

Pray for them

Our TCKs are in such a unique position. They are growing up on the field. They know what it is to be a bridge between two cultures. They have had amazing experiences that will equip them well for adult life. But they can also be damaged by those things. There are pressures on families working overseas that can scar, hurt and damage the next generation. Prayers from supporters have a special role in building them up, protecting them and helping them grow.

  • Pray for this precious generation to grow up with a strong faith, for them to be rooted in God
  • In the midst of struggles over identity, pray for them to have a strong sense of identity in God
  • Pray for the parents to have the time, energy and patience to be able to listen to, understand and support their children
  • Recognise the vulnerabilities of TCKs and pray about how you can love and support them during home assignments.


Emma and her family are serving long-term in the Middle East. This article was kindly shared by Interserve Great Britain & Ireland.